Participation of President Leire Pajín: 35 years of the Esquipulas Declaration I

On 2 June, the President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Leire Pajín Iraola, participated in the event "35 years of the Esquipulas Declaration I" co-organised by Casa de América and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. Leire Pajín attended the panel discussion "The Legacy of Esquipulas and Central America Today" together with Carmen Rosa de León, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development, Raquel Zelaya, President of the Association for Economic and Social Studies (ASIES), and Ramón Jáuregui, President of the Euroamerica Foundation. The event was moderated by Cristina Gallach, Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Ibero-America and the Caribbean.

On 25 May 1986, the "Declaration of Esquipulas (I)" was signed, which triggered the process of national and regional negotiations that would bring peace to the Central American region. The Esquipulas processes symbolise the victory of negotiation and the assumption of responsibility and protagonism of the Central American countries as an alternative to conflict. In this seminar, they sought to re-examine this experience at a time of strong polarisation in the region and in the face of difficulties in reaching solutions based on dialogue and consensus.

The panellists analysed the current situation in the Central American region, which has been greatly affected by the Pandemic, resulting in a difficult social, political and economic situation. In addition, Central America has been characterised by a conflict situation with different actors and challenges than in the past, resulting in the countries of the region being further apart today. However, those present stressed that the region is affected by joint problems and that it should move forward with a common agenda and common goals.

The President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Leire Pajín, emphasised the interconnectivity of the EU and Central American agendas, as the EU remains a major donor to Central America. She also referred to the deep roots of the beginning of Spanish cooperation with the peace process in Central America, during which many Spanish and European actors played an important role, and which is a key example of Spain's development cooperation.

"We must recover the strength of the Esquipulas agenda, knowing that many of the challenges are still valid. The Central American challenges are also European and Spanish. We must return to cooperation, and have a shared agenda".

The President of the Foundation stressed the importance of a dialogue of mutual learning between the EU and Central America, and of creating alliances that accompany and support transformative policies and integration processes in the region. Referring to the global challenges caused by the pandemic, Leire Pajín called for a reinforced commitment of the European Union to Central and Latin America, with a view to ethical and moral responsibility, and in its own interest.

"We need to rebuild a collective dream of the present. We are talking about a process of many years ago, nowadays we need to revitalise the agenda with present actors according to the current needs of a new generation".